MORRISTOWN -- It had been over 100 Friday nights since Union Local's Jets had something to celebrate on the football field.
That all changed Friday night.
Union Local ended a 22-game losing streak, dating back to the first week of the 2010 season, with a hard-fought 13-12 victory over Edison in Morristown.
UNION LOCAL’S Tater Blake is tackled by an Edison player during the first half of Friday’s game in Morristown. The Jets captured their first win of the season, 13-12. Additional images may be found at cu.timesleaderonline.com
"The monkey's off our back," an excited Union Local head coach Mark Cisar related. "Now the kids can concentrate on winning football games and not worry about ending that streak. This is big for our kids, the coaching staff, our school and the entire community."
Union Local finished with just 102 yards of offense, including just nine rushing yards.
"One word sums up tonight, defense," Cisar explained. "Our defense made big play after big play. We know we aren't going to score a lot of points, so our defense has to come up big and tonight it did.
"Edison has a nice team," Cisar added. "Honestly, we felt they were the best team of the first four on our schedule. They made some costly mistakes with turnovers and had some penalties negate a few big plays."
As Cisar alluded to, Edison was its own worst enemy.
The Wildcats committed six turnovers, five of which came in the second half and were penalized 12 times for 129 yards.
After trading turnovers, Edison put together a solid eight-play, 55-yard drive as junior signal caller Nolan Marcus broke in from a yard out. The point after failed and Edison held a 6-0 lead with 1:28 showing in the first quarter.
Union Local appeared to be attempting to draw the Wildcats offsides from its 40-yard line but the ball was snapped surprising Jets' QB Gavin Porter, who never got the exchange. The Wildcats took over at the Jets 38-yard line.
A quick four-play drive was capped with Marcus finding room off the left side resulting in a 31-yard scoring jaunt. Edison's two-point try failed leaving the 'Cats advantage at 12-0 with 4:24 left in the first half.
On Edison's second play of scrimmage to open the second half, senior Chris Graziani broke free for a 65-yard TD. A holding call, however, would negate the score. The Wildcats fumbled on the next play with the Jets' Travis James covering at the Edison 24-yard line.
"They had several penalties but the holding call on the touchdown was the biggest," Cisar said. "Instead of them going up three scores, we are able to force a turnover on the next play."
UL had a fourth-and-goal from the four-yard line, but Porter's pass fell incomplete.
Edison moved out from the shadow if its own goal line, but another fumble would give the Jets possession at the Wildcats 26-yard line. Colton McKivitz forced the fumble and Jesse Keith covered it.
Union Local would cash in on the very next play as Porter found wide out Kaleb McDiffitt open on the left sideline and the freshman made one man miss en route to paydirt. The snap was fumbled and Edison held a 12-6 edge with 5:04 left in the third quarter.
Edison opened the next drive at its 12-yard line and on the first play put the pigskin on the ground again. McKivitz's forced it again and James covered his second fumble of the game.
Three Porter carries culminated in his one-yard burst. Eric Dunfee booted the important point after handing the Jets a 13-12 lead with 3:42 showing in the third quarter.
After trading punts, Edison took over near midfield but a mistake on a handoff left the ball laying on the turf and McKivitz swooped in and picked up the pigskin and returned it to the Edison 20-yard line. The Wildcats defense would stiffen and sniffed out a UL fake field goal attempt to keep the spread at just one.
Again after trading punts, Tater Blake read an Edison screen perfectly and the ensuing face mask penalty gave the Jets great field position at the Edison 10-yard line. Union Local would not be able to capitalize though and Edison would have one last chance needing to drive 81 yards with 3:36 left the game.
"We had so many opportunites deep in their territory after turnovers but we just could not punch in another score," Cisar said.
On the second play, Graziani broke into the open along the left sideline, delivered a strong stiff-arm to McDiffitt but the DB's effort did just enough to trip up the Edison RB after a 52-yard gain. Marcus was tackled by McKivitz for a loss on first down and then watched as three straight pass attempts fell incomplete giving the ball back to UL with 1:58 remaining.The Wildcats had no timeouts remaining and the Jets were able to run the clock out.
Porter finished with 14 completions in 25 attempts for 93 yards. McDiffitt was his favorite target with 6 catches for 48 yards and a TD.
The hosts received big time defensive efforts from McKivitz, Blake, Keith, James, Brandon Winesickle and Griffey Girty.
Edison was led by Graziani's 14 carries for 99 yards. Marcus passed for 83 and ran for another 45 and two TDs.
The Wildcats got solid defensive efforts from Hunter Sweat and Jonah Haught.
Union Local, now 1-3, will visit Martins Ferry next Friday. Edison, also 1-3, visits Buckeye Local the same night.